What Does It Mean To Be A Good Teammate?
What does it mean to you when you hear someone say that someone is a good teammate? Maybe that they are easy to work with? That they are pleasant to talk to? That they know a lot and can help you get better? It could be a number of things that make you think someone is a good teammate. Everyone’s opinions on this can be slightly different, however there are some basic guidelines that are rather standard.
Being a good teammate can mean different things for different people. For example, if you are a competitor, being a good team mate to the other competitors on your team might be pushing the pace of a math, going harder than you would with someone else who is not a competitor. Or simply playing by the ruleset of their upcoming competition so they are getting realistic preparation.
Whereas being a good teammate could also be encouraging the person who just started last week to push just a little harder through the warmups, or encouraging them to gain a little more flexibility. As you can see, being a good teammate can vary greatly based on your capabilities, and the capabilities of your training partner. Regardless, always be sure to adjust your intensity appropriately and make your training partner want to come back, unless of course they are a competitor in which case give them a hard time, they need it.
While there are some things that can be scaled to make you a good training partner there are other things that are rather standard regardless of your skill set or your opponent’s skill set. Let’s take a look at the basics, the bare minimum expectations to be a good training partner, if you will.
One of the biggest things that you can do to be a good teammate is to have good hygiene.
What exactly is good hygiene? Well, let’s just start with the basics. Wash your Gi and belt after every use. This is a simple task yet is imperative, especially in the warmer weather to keep the germs and smell under control. The longer you wait to wash your gear after class the more time bacteria has to grow making it more difficult to kill in the wash cycle.
Bottom line wash ALL of your gear (belt included) immediately after each training session. If you are doing this consistently your gear should last you a long time, however, if you can’t seem to get the smell to come out, it’s time to replace your that item. The smell is a sign of bacteria that is alive and growing inside of the fabric of your gear.
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If this happens, throw it out, and replace it and be more diligent in washing your gear right after training. You may also want to use a laundry detergent specifically designed for sports that specializes in killing bacteria.
Before coming to class with your fresh gear, you want to make sure you are also smelling fresh and have recently been washed (taken a shower). You also need to make sure you are using some sort of a deodorant. This is especially the case if you like to work out or do CrossFit prior to coming to class or have a job you where you get particularly dirty. Showering more than once a day is ok, and it may even be appreciated. Use your best judgement on this one, and when in doubt, shower before and after class.
The next part of good hygiene is your nails. Make sure to keep your fingernails AND toenails trimmed so we can prevent unnecessary scratching while training. This is quick and easy and should never be neglected. Pick up a pair of nail clippers and toss them in your bag as a backup in case you forget. There’s nothing worse than having to stop a training session because you or your partner got scratched and now, you’re bleeding. Be respectful and keep your nails trimmed.
The reality of it is in training we are often times breathing in each other’s faces from a close distance. Just like you’d make sure your breath didn’t smell bad for a date (we hope) make sure it doesn’t smell bad on the mats. Brush your teeth, chew some gum, eat mints, find something that works for you, smokers, this includes you too. No one wants to train with someone who’s breath smells bad so make sure you are not that person and that your breath is fresh as can be.
Just as important as good hygiene prior to class, we have to focus on good hygiene after class. The sooner you can shower after class the better. A general rule of thumb is to make sure to shower within three hours of completing your training. Let’s clarify, just because you got into the shower and quickly put some soap on your body doesn’t mean you had a effective shower. First, you should be using a quality soap product, ideally something designed for our sport, like Defense or Arm Bar Soap. Secondly, if you want to kill the bacterial, you have to put soap on it, so be diligent in scrubbing your entire body with quality soap to ensure you are staying clean. This is not only for smelling clean, but actually being clean.
In addition to having good hygiene, you can be a good teammate by being friendly. Smile, be nice, talk to people, especially the new people. No one likes being the new person, so ease their anxiety a bit and strike up a conversation with them. You should feel an obligation to train politely with the newer students and to ensure not only their safety, but that they had a great time and want to come back for the next class.
Sometimes being a good teammate might mean spartan kicking your training partner, that is, if you are drilling that technique. Ether way drilling properly is one of the best things you can do to be a good training partner. Do not allow your training partner to have an easy day drilling or to get lazy. Push the pace of drilling, expect perfection in the technique and encourage them to do it the best they can.
Sometimes being a good teammate means understanding your ability and controlling yourself and your body so that you do not accidently fall on your training partner and hurt them. It also means understanding your ability from a submission perspective, if you can’t put the submission on slowly in training, you don’t have it. There is no reason to be ripping submissions on the mats at your academy with your teammates. In competition it’s one thing, but it’s not acceptable with your teammates.
Your teammates should be able to trust you. They should want to train with you because you give them a good workout, help correct little details during drilling, but also control yourself and your submissions ensuring they are able to train safely without any concern of being hurt, or being injured for work tomorrow.
Being a good teammate means being the person you that made you keep coming back, or maybe the person you wish you had encouraging you and pushing you when you started. It’s having someone that pushes you, encourages you and cares about you and helping you reach your goals.
If you are ready to take your drilling to the next level you should check out “Solo and partner grappling drills for rapid movement by Tom DeBlass”. This video instructional is packed with drills that you can practice with a partner or on your own. Drilling these techniques will improve your skills 4 to 5 times faster than just regular sparing according to DeBlass. These drills will give you the tools you need to be successful on the mats, whether it’s at your academy in friendly competition or on the mats at competition.
Adding a health portion of drilling to your BJJ diet is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether for muscle memory or just to increase your Jiu-Jitsu specific endurance, Drilling is a proven method to increase your performance! Solo and Partner Grappling Drills by Tom DeBlass is one of the very best resources on the subject! Check it out!